3. Blog

9Dec18, London

Two opposing demonstrations ending in Whitehall, the Brexit betrayal Assembly and Opposition to Tommy Robinson in London.

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Figs. A1 – A15 
London, 9th December 2018

This is the first time I have shot in black and white and it is an interesting experience because it allows greater focus on composition. Just as showing B&W photographs, by removing the interest of colour, accentuates the need to improve all the other aspects of a shot, so a B&W viewfinder concentrates the mind on everything else. It might be worth trying to shoot B&W in every circumstance and let the colours take care of themselves: the only risk is white balance errors.

And the problem with a B&W set is that some images deserve to be in colour and this is a case in point.

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Figs. A14 and A14a 
London, 9th December 2018

So long as I shoot JPG and RAW, I can always go back to the RAW image for the colour version. In this case, the subject, having gone to all that effort to accessorize, it would be an injustice not to show him in colour. But this also illustrated my first point: fig. A14a is immediately more arresting simply because of the striking colours, showing it in B&W forces me to try to make images more intrinsically visually interesting and forces the viewer to work harder to read the picture which is almost always a good thing.

The other shot which might make the cut is the only potentially violent moment I saw that day when a Robinson supporter engaged with the Opposition platform and was hustled away, figs. A11 and A12.

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Figs. A11, A12 and A11a
London, 9th December 2018

13Dec18, Parliament

[from the blog] To town again, snapping just off ParlSq, specifically trying to get some shots of the demonstrators trying to get their banners into the background of TV interviews. This is happening less these days because the tent village of the broadcasters has been cordoned-off from most of the protesters, though their leader (Steve) seems to be tolerated, even with his extended placard pole.

13Dec18
Figs. B1 – B13
13th December
off Parliament Square, London

Two possible keepers here, elevated to the submission page: one reaction to the sandwich-board preacher (fig. B10) and Steve with his placard pole extension (fig. B6).

B10 Asg3
Figs. B10a and B6a 
13th December

12Oct18

JW Sidcup
Fig. C1
12th October 
Sidcup High Street

A retrospective inclusion, but taken during the course, after I had started Part 3 and was aware of Assignment 3 and the Decisive Moment Imperative, two Jehovah’s Witnesses representatives on Sid-cup High Street. This just about qualifies for the demonstration / vigil category and they are a beautiful pair of subjects. If the final images are to be in chronological order, this will be a gentle introduction to the subject. “Though tame by gilet jeune standards”, is a phrase that might appear in my assignment text.


2Jan19

The Labour Party held its annual leafleting of local stations, protesting the January fare rise. A desultory turnout (2 each at Eltham and New Eltham stations) and a largely indifferent public (perhaps understandably on the first day back to work after the Christmas and New Year festivities).

I broke out the old Nikon D300 for this mission, its first use on the course. I probably should have used the 50mm f/1.8, especially at Eltham, where it was still dark, but instead I used the superzoom.

These will not make the cut for submission. More care must be taken with the remaining opportunities.

[5Jan] On second thoughts, D2 might do at a push – the commuter is making a great job of ignoring the leaflet-givers, with a hint of motion blur at 1/40th, good structure and composition – it is a crop.

Exc 4.2
Figs. D1 – D3 
2nd January 2019
Eltham and New Eltham Stations

3Jan

I turned up for the vigil at the Edith Cavell statue, unfortunately, the vigil did not. Nevertheless, I never shoot at night †, so it was a worthwhile trial run. 
† The only night shoot I recall was on Brighton seafront with the diminutive and surprisingly effective Pentax Optio LS100, shown below, fig. E6.

3Jan19
Figs. E1-E5
3rd January 2019, St Martins Lane
Fig E6
30th September 2011, Brighton seafront

12Jan

Times 13Jan19
Fig. F14 The Times, 13th January 2019
photo credit © Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images, link

As noted in the blog, a multiple pleasure today: an OCA meetup at the Wellcome Collection, then a protest at Trafalgar Square and a visit to the Zimbabwe House vigil. 

I made a technical error, switching on the “motor drive” in an attempt to get multiple images to choose from (as discussed earlier), but I had left exposure bracketing on so I had a random (as determined by the duration of the shutter-press) number of badly-exposed images to go with the first. Some should be recoverable from RAW, if necessary.

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Fig. F1 Laura Pidcock MP
F2-F3 Owen Jones
F4 the disabled enclosure
F5-F10 the protesters at Trafalgar Square
(incl. Fig. F6a, detail) 
F11 discarded posters
F12 scuffles with right-wing counter protesters
F13 the Zimbabwe House vigil.
London, 12th January 2019

Despite the technical mishap, the shoot went quite well. A longer lens would have been useful for the speakers’ platform (Figs. F1-F3) and has resulted in a heavy crop of the originals.
On the general crows shots, there is a fascination about the range of emotion shown on the protesters’ faces and in their body language, ranging from excited agreement to complete indifference.
There is a Fox Talbot moment of charm with Fig. 6, of which a colour detail is shown (Fig. 6a). Inexplicably, I did not notice the “Fuck Theresa May” sign while taking the photographs. Had I done so, I would have taken more and it would have probably been the image of choice: there is further charm in the way the sign-writer has misspelled the name (ironically, in the same way that Donald Trump’s White House did, Guardian 27Jan17) and has settled for an obvious correction, rather than starting again. Given that the sign itself is vital to the image, it is improved by being shown in colour. This also applies to Fig. 11, the discarded placards (to be fair to the protesters, this was a pile collected so that the wooden uprights could be recycled for the next time).

As was the case on 9th December, the event was covered by the national newspapers and I will happily stand my images up against the professionals’ offerings (fig F14 and see above).

As I was leaving the Square there was a minor altercation as the left confronted the right with the police in the middle. There was a lot of jostling, but no violence and I got as close to the action as I could before police reinforcements arrived and separated the parties. Fig. 12 (f/3.7 1/80th) captures this quite well. 

The Zimbabwe Vigil (fig. F13) is a fairly lacklustre affair with a few adults and a few children trying to keep warm and so the photograph is framed to include all the signs as these are more visually interesting. Arguably, this image might be improved by colour. It is possible that numbers were reduced with some in Trafalgar Square, a few hundred yards away.


15Jan

The settings were correct this time, motor drive on, bracket exposure off. The burst of shots means that 117 images were taken.These have been whittled down to 16. June 15th was the date of the significant vote on Theresa May’s brexit deal, which the government lost, followed by the tabling of a vote of no confidence. I was only there in mid-afternoon when there was not much protesting: the mood was one of rivalry rather than hostility. The main interest was colour, which is unfortunate as I intend to submit the assignment in monochrome. There are some interesting faces, but without colour they are far less interesting, as demonstrated by the colour versions of some of the images which have been included.

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Figs. G1 – G16
incl figs. G9a, G10a, G15a
15th January
off Parliament Square, London

The first six images (figs. G1-G6) display interesting enough characters, but not in particularly protestational acts: as noted above, that was not the mood of the moment.

The character in Fig. 7 walked repeatedly through the pro-EU membership demonstrators, trying to taunt them into a reaction, bit rarely raising a murmur. In fig. 8 the subject is trying to argue with police officers but gets no reaction.

Fig. 9 is probably the shot of the day as the strikingly-dressed subject makes aggressive eye contact with someone holding a contrary view, but would work better in colour. The young lady in fig. 10 is, interestingly, dressed quite comparably, but in support of the opposite faction and again would be better in colour. The older demonstrator in fig. 15 is a stylish addition to the trio and works almost as well in monochrome.

Figs. 7, 9, 10 and 15 will be added to the list of possible images for submission.


6Feb

Legal Action for Women protest outside the Family Court on Holborn on the first Wednesday of the month. Their two main points are that domestic violence ought to be treated more seriously by the Court and that the Court discriminates against ethnic minorities in their decisions.

I am torn between documenting such protests with an image showing the whole assemblage (such as fig. H2) or concentrating on “interesting” individuals within the group (figs. H4-8) . I know that for this assignment it should be the latter but my natural inclination is towards reportage rather than street portraits.

I had heard that there was to be a demonstration at the Bank of England at the same time against the freezing of Venezuelan gold reserves and so hurried there, but there was nothing to be seen other than an interview being filmed. It transpired that the demo was the next day and Mr. Corbyn attended, and so that was an opportunity lost.

Figs. H1 – H10
6th February 
The Family Court, Holborn and the Bank of England

15Feb

A fun and successful return to Parliament Square for the Schools Climate Protest. It made a refreshing change to be photographing caring, fresh-faced protesters rather than seeking out grizzled characterful subjects. A good haul of usable material.

The outing was also interesting technically with the most sensible collection of kit yet, the G80 with a medium telephoto zoom (Olympus 40-150 (80-300) and the Fuji X100T with a fixed wide-angle. I took 82 shots overall (none on motor drive), 24 of which are shown here, 7 from the G80 and 17 from the Fuji. 8 of these will edited for the final selection

Figs. I1 – I24 
15th February
School climate change protests, Parliament Square